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Changes in Pregnancy

pregnancy2Everyone recognizes the enlarging abdomen of pregnancy, but unless a sister or close friend has been pregnant, you may not be familiar with the other amazing physical and emotional changes taking place.

Pregnancy is a steady stream of new experiences, and some may make you wonder if everything is going all right. You may also wonder if and when you should call your caregiver. Your experiences will be less distressing if you know the common physical and emotional changes during pregnancy.

pregnancy_changes1Also, keep in mind that pregnancy and early parenthood initiate major changes in your relationships with your mate, your parents, other relatives and friends. Be patient with yourself. Do not expect everything to go perfectly. No childbirth experience exactly matches expectations.

Whenever possible, make allowances for the demands of pregnancy. Look at your body and its incredible ability to grow and nurture a baby. Try to flow with your new experiences. Give yourself time to get used to the realities of parenthood as you consider your plans or make different commitments for the future.

Every birth is different. It's natural to remember your childbirth experience in great detail and often useful to write it all down. You, your partner and your child will enjoy reading about this special experience for years to come.

Becoming a parent is the most important and challenging responsibility you can assume, and how extraordinary it is to be able to enjoy moments of peace with your child and to take pride in all you have accomplished.

Not every woman will look like cover model in magazine. Similarly, not every pregnant woman will still look beautiful and svelte than before. Fact.

The ugly truth is nine out of ten pregnant women suffer from some kind of physical discomfort, not to mention their fatigued and ungainly appearance - sluggish movement, flabby tummy, arms and legs, thicker waist, excess flab and more. New mothers are already stressed by what they saw in mirrors. It could get worse if they're unable to regain pre-pregnancy looks and yet have to look after a crying baby. Coupled with lack of family support and exhaustion, new mothers could easily fall prey to post-natal depression.

pregnancy_changes2Fortunately, many physicians agree that most mothers, once they understand the physiology behind these physical changes, are able to handle them very well and adapt very quickly. Sometimes, medication and counseling are necessary if doctors detect symptoms of disturbances for some mothers. Neglect is never the solution as it may lead to or aggravate post-natal depression.

According to obstetricians and gynecologists, if you're pregnant, you would likely experience the following physical changes. It definitely helps you learn to accept these changes if you understand more about them.

»». "I'm tired all the time"

Giving birth saps a lot of your energy. So, it is natural that you'll feel weak or dizzy after childbirth. The recovery usually takes from two weeks to two months, depending on your physique. That's why in some countries, mothers are allowed maternity leave up to 3 months, to recuperate. Actually, the preventive measure is to build up your blood store before and during pregnancy by consuming adequate iron, folic acid and multivitamins.

You may also feel aches in the back and lower pubic bone areas due to the strain on the ligaments and muscles. However, these are only temporary discomfort.

»». "My breasts become bigger"

If you find your breasts grow from B to C cup, don't be alarmed - your breasts are getting ready for breastfeeding. Furthermore, hormonal changes during pregnancy cause more melanin to deposit into the skin cells at the nipples and areola, leading to darkening of nipple or areola skin tone.

After breastfeeding, your breasts may not be able to regain their old size and worse still, they may become saggy and loose. This may not be good news to you, especially if you are already a heavy-breasted woman.

»». "What is incontinence?"

Incontinence means that you lose control of your bladder or bowel which can be embarrassing. This could be due to physical injury or trauma to the pelvic floor muscles.

The likely causes of injury are a difficult forceps delivery, prolonged labour, or vaginal delivery of a large baby. In the case of difficult delivery, use of Caesarean could help to reduce pelvic floor trauma. It is a symptom but not a disease by itself, therefore it can be treated. Don't be afraid to seek medical help. If you delay treatment, you'll run the risk of developing rashes, sores on skin and urinary tract infections. Your social life will also be affected as you'll try to avoid your family and friends for fear of embarrassment.

You should follow a well-balanced diet, and avoid food or drinks that may irritate your bladder, such as caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks and spicy foods. Citrus fruits and juices must be cut down too. For diabetics, sugar intake must be reduced in your diet so as to control the glucose level. Exercising and strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor, widely known as Kegel's exercise named after Arnold Kegel, M.D, helps to cure incontinence.

pregnancy_changes3»». "Why are my veins so obvious now?"

You may notice more veins become more prominent in your legs during pregnancy. These veins, called varicose and spider veins, appear because the weight of your womb exerts more pressure on the major vein (inferior vena cava) on the right side of the body. This in turn increases the pressure in the leg veins.

Increased progesterone levels during pregnancy also cause the blood vessel walls to relax, thereby worsening the problem.

Some useful tips are:

- Wear support or compression stockings

- Don't stand too long

- Lift your legs on some cushions when resting

- Lose some weight

- Surgery such as sclerotherapy and vein stripping. However, be patient to see if the veins disappear after childbirth.

»». "What are these marks on my body?"

They're called stretch marks which are formed as a result of a split in your skin's supportive tissue to accommodate a growing baby. They are initially red and will turn darker. However, after pregnancy, they may turn silvery or blue.

The bad news is they're pretty much permanent, though they may fade in intensity. So far, no medication or creams are effective in removing them, but some special techniques do help to speed up the fading effect, if not remove them almost completely.

»». "My hair is falling off!"

It is actually normal due to hormonal changes and usually happens three months after delivery. During pregnancy, the hormone cause the hair follicles to delay the fallout of the hair.

After delivery, the hormone levels revert to normal and those hair that suppose to drop off previously, now happen all at the same time. That's why you get the impression you are losing more hair than normal. If you're worried, you may just take some multivitamins.